Drogheda is one of Ireland's largest towns with an urban and suburban population of about 45,000, serving a hinterland of nearly 150,000 people. Drogheda is located at the mouth of the river Boyne on Ireland's east coast and has always played a key role in the history of Ireland since its foundation in the 12th Century. The town has a rich and varied history, at the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Brú Na Bóinne complex.
A strong feature of the local arts scene has been a positive model of partnership between the various groups in the area, whether they be professional organisations or voluntary groups. All strive to improve access to the creative arts, without distinction to ethos or funding status. In recent years, the various local authorites in Louth (Louth County Council, Ardee Town Council, Drogheda Borough Council and Dundalk Town Council) have worked in a developmental role to support the continued expansion of the arts service in the area. They recently launched the first county-wide arts plan which was developed in consultation with audiences and stakeholders in the area.
Visual artists such as Nathaniel Hill, Nano Reid and Bea Orpen were either or born or lived in the town for most of their lives and the local government body (Drogheda Borough Council, formerly the Corporation of Drogheda) has over a 300 year period, built up a modest but important collection of paintings which are now housed at Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery. The Gallery also will serve as a key visual art space to promote and animate contemporary visual arts practice.
We work closely with our colleagues at Droichead Arts Centre - a multi-disciplinary centre - which has a theatre, gallery, studios and a community programme based at its premises at Stockwell Street and Barlow House. The town also has two award winning professional theatre companies: Calipo Theatre & Film Company and Upstate Theatre Project, as well as an active Youth Theatre movement. There are also several traditional drama societies, pantomime groups and the Little Duke Theatre, which is a leading stage school for children. Youth dance is catered for with the Drogheda Youth Dance Company.
The local authority has a dedicated Arts Office which promotes the annual Drogheda Arts Festival (last weekend of April (May Bank Holiday weekend)), an international standard classical and contemporary music programme, principally at St. Peter's Church of Ireland - one of Ireland's finest and most beautiful classical music venues. The town owns a Steinway Grand Piano, which is only one of seven in the island of Ireland, affording local audiences to hear world-class concert pianists. Louth Local Authorities Arts Service has also pioneered developments in rural Louth, such as the annual Ardee Baroque Festival (November).
There is an active traditional Irish music scene with several public house sessions plus an annual festival of traditional music (November), the innovative Drogheda Samba Music Festival (July) and whole range of choral groups. Droichead Arts Centre also provides rehearsal and jamming space for young bands and other musicians. www.droicheadartscentre.com, T: 0419875140
Photography (Drogheda Camera Club) has its own premises and studio at Millmount, while literature is also catered for with writers groups, the annual Aimirgin Literary Festival (September), several authors and poets live locally and there is an annual children's festival, Leanbh (November).
Heritage is manifest in Drogheda and groups such as the Old Drogheda Society organise regular lectures, the John Boyle O'Reilly School (September) as well as the year round award winning Millmount Museum, which has rooms of local interest and collects artifacts from the area. Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery is located only 5KM from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre - access point for the valley complex including Newgrange and Knowth; possibly the worlds most significant passage cairn complex. There are several historic houses, gardens and other sites including 'The Battle of the Boyne' at Oldbridge, which altered the course of European history and still echoes in the politics of Ireland four centuries on.
Within the wider Louth, Meath and north Fingal area, there are a range of theatre spaces (An Táin Theatre, Dundalk, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan and the Seamus Ennis Centre, The Naul, Co. Dublin); see our links pages for more details.